Teenage Fanclub: In Mosul Extremists Ramp Up Under-20s Recruitment
One of the latest inventions by the Islamic State in Mosul is the mobile pulpit. Most recently a caravan for propaganda appeared in a city fun fair. The target for extremist recruitment? The city's children.
It has almost become a joke among the families of Mosul. It goes like this: If your child disappears, where should you look for him? The nearest extremist training camp, of course.
Mosul is currently controlled by the extremist organisation known as the Islamic State, who took over the city violently last June, and the group has set up several training camps around the city. Disturbingly, a lot of the new trainees seem to be under 18.
The Islamic State, or IS, group has always been keen about getting their teenage fan club going. When they first took over Mosul in mid-2014, they selected a number of enthusiastic teenagers from in the city and sent them to their Syrian “capital”, Raqqa, for weapons training. This was just the beginning. Since then they have set up a number of training camps in Mosul says Younis al-Zubaidi*, a retired army officer who knows individuals with close ties to the IS group.
Al-Zubaidi says that today the camp known as the Abu Musab al-Zarqawi camp in the forests outside of Mosul is well known and there are also others in places around the city including in Qayara, Biaj, Hada and Hamam al-Alil .
From the beginning of their rule in Mosul the IS group has been enthusiastic about getting fighters in contact with the city's young people, having them visit schools and give lectures. These men rely on preaching and on awakening religious fervour in local youth and the extremist group clearly has plans for its legacy members.
A Mosul school teacher, Mahmoud Ali, says that the IS fighters are continually coming up with excuses that allow them to visit local secondary schools where they distribute leaflets and CDs to the pupils; the CDs contain footage of military operations and religious songs to inspire what they call “holy war”.